Does Your Car's Air Filter Need Replacing?

Published 4:46 am Tuesday, October 26, 2004

By Staff
(ARA) How good are you about changing your vehicle's air filter? The owner's manuals in most cars and trucks recommend you check the filter — which is designed to trap dirt and contaminants before they reach your engine — every time you get an oil change, and replace it whenever it's dirty or has been driven 20,000 miles, whichever comes first. For people who regularly drive on dirt or sand roads, that could be every 5,000 miles, but not everyone does it in a timely fashion.
If it's too dirty, the air filter won't trap dirt particles, which can damage engine cylinders, walls, pistons and piston rings, severely impacting fuel economy and engine performance. An inefficient engine can cause air pollution. The situation has gotten so bad in some states, they now require vehicles to pass engine emissions tests to stay on the road. In many cases, drivers find out their vehicle's failed because of a dirty air filter.
Visteon, one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world, has come up with a solution that will ensure you never have a dirty filter again. The Long Life Filtration System is a fully sealed air induction system designed to remove contaminants from engine intake air while providing noise control with minimal power loss. It contains a reticulated, or networked foam filter, designed to last more than 150,000 miles under normal use. Ford is the first automobile manufacturer to offer the new high-tech air filter as standard equipment in two of its 2005 models: the F150 and Focus.
Not only does the system save consumers money, it helps the environment. The filters reduce evaporative emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect, and save landfill space because they don't need to be replaced as often. They are made of 100 percent recycled materials that are recyclable themselves.
If you don't have one of the new Ford F150s or Focuses, and still need to replace your air filters, here are some things you should keep in mind:
* To determine whether your air filter needs to be replaced, just lift it out (it isn't fastened down) and hold it up to the sun or to a strong light. If you can't see light streaming through it, try dropping it lightly, bottom side down, on a hard surface. Doing so should jar some dirt loose. If the filter is still too dirty to see through after you've dropped it a few times, you need a new one.
* When buying an air filter, look for well-known, quality-brand filters; you can often get them quite cheaply at discount stores. Unknown brands sell for very little, but they aren't always of good quality, and if your air filter lets a lot of junk get into your carburetor, you may find that a cheap filter is very costly in the long run. If you need help determining which air filter is the one you need, go to your local auto supply store or to the parts department at your dealership. Give them your vehicle's make, model, and year. Make sure that the filter you get matches your old filter in size and shape. If it doesn't, you've been sold the wrong filter for your car.
* If you decide to change the filter yourself, always do so with the engine off, and never start or run the engine with the air filter out of place. Most filters can be easily replaced by removing snap clips, a clamp or several screws. Make sure you use the filter specified for your car's engine; do not try to make a filter fit. An improperly fitting filter can allow unfiltered air into the engine, causing engine damage.
These tips are from the experts at, and were adapted from the book, Auto Repair for Dummies. To learn more about the Long Life Filtration System from Visteon, log on to
Courtesy of ARA Content

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